I pat her on the shoulder. “Good for you. I bet you’re dying to get away from all these professional athletes. They can be a real pain in the ass, I would know.”
She laughs. “Yeah, you do. Your brother is an interesting man. Well, we are happy to have you here today,” she says with a polite smile. “If you could follow me, I’ll take you to meet the team.”
Dressed in a black mid-length skirt that fits her petite frame perfectly, Regan makes the casual pants and sweater I have on seem frumpy in comparison. I feel underdressed for the occasion. We exchange pleasantries as we walk down the hall, the nerves creeping up the back of my throat. Most of the time, nothing fazes me.
Why am I so anxious?
Ethan pops into my head again, reminding me of the reason for the sickness brewing in my stomach. I have to focus, tell myself I’m not here for Ethan. I’m not even here for the other players. This is my job—not an extension of my personal life.
Since I was in high school, I’d wanted to become an investigative journalist, but I’m still climbing the ladder at the Philadelphia Inquirer. All the good jobs go to those with more seniority. So, I have to wait my turn and bide my time. I thought I could make a name for myself with a case like the Old City Records drug ring. But every lead to a better story, one that could make my career, has taken me down a road to nowhere.
As we step into the pressroom, my eyes immediately fall to Ethan, as if drawn to him. My insides clench from the pang of desire mixed with hatred for my older brother’s best friend. If only he were the same boy I once knew. Then, it would make these unwanted emotions less annoying.
Ethan slides his chair out from the table, his legs spread wide, and my mind drifts to dirty places. He gives me a sexy-as-fuck look, the corner of his mouth turning up into one of his signature smirks. My heart beats faster, adrenaline shooting through my veins from the intoxicating effect Ethan has over my body.
I want him, even though I shouldn’t go within ten feet of him. He probably has diseases with all the puck bunnies he’s hooked up with over the years. Yeah, I’ll go with that excuse. Lying to myself is easier than admitting my feelings for the man I loathe. Or at least try to hate.
Ethan drags his hand up his thigh and pats it as if telling me to sit. Asshole.
“Baby sis,” Will says, cutting through the group of muscular hockey players to get to me. He pulls me into a hug, tapping me way too hard on the back. “I didn’t know you would be here.”
I cough as he releases me, attempting to get my bearings. “I wasn’t supposed to come along. Clarke asked me to help her out.”
He laughs. “I’m sure she can use it. These guys can be a handful.”
“Speak for yourself,” Tyler Kane says, coming up from behind my brother.
In person, he’s even more attractive with his surfer tan, blue eyes, and short blond hair. The last I’d heard he had married a local sports reporter. Lucky girl.
Tyler extends his hand to me and makes the usual introductions. He runs a hand through his hair and smiles. “Your brother talks about you all the time. It’s nice to meet you, Mia.”
“You, too, Tyler. Who wants to go first?” I point my finger at Tyler. “How about you, team captain?”
“I’ll take him,” Clarke says to me.
Since this is Clarke’s gig, she takes the lead and begins by interviewing Tyler, leaving me alone with Will.
Will leads me by the hand to the other side of the conference table. “You already know everything there is to know about me, but ask away.”
We sit in two open chairs, my nerves finally subsiding until Ethan rolls his chair from the head of the table to meet us.
“I like tag teams,” Ethan says with a crooked grin.
I roll my eyes. “I’m sure you do.”
“I was talking about the interview. Get your mind out of the gutter, Mia.”
I wave my hand dismissively in front of him. “Well, I know how you athletes like to avoid interviews whenever possible. Don’t think because either of you knows me that you can sit here and give me a hard time. I’m here to do my job, the one I’m being paid to do. Need I remind you that job pays the bills and puts food on my table, so no bullshit, okay?”
“You can start with me,” Ethan offers. “And don’t worry about the food and rent. Will and I have that covered for the next month.”
I lose my breath along with my train of thought, and this time, for a different reason than the aching Ethan causes between my legs.